Fitness Articles

9 Cross-Training Activities for Runners

Boost Performance, Reduce Injury Risk and Beat Boredom

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Indoor Rowing
The indoor rowing machine is not the most popular item in the gym, but it provides an amazing workout. Rowing is great for runners who want to develop strength in their quadriceps and hips while also improving upper body strength. Good form is necessary when using the rower, so read this article about proper rowing mechanics or ask a certified trainer for some pointers.

Stair Climbing
Whether you elect to climb stairs in your office building or at the gym on the stair stepping machine, heading up stairs provides an excellent workout for the quads and hip flexors. Because runners tend to have stronger hamstrings, cross-training activities that target the quadriceps can help you achieve better muscle balance, therefore reducing the injury risk.

Plyometrics
Plyometrics are high intensity, explosive exercises such as jumping, bounding and hopping drills. Jumping onto a box or step is one of the most popular. These activities can help improve a runner's overall strength, speed, range of motion, push-offs and stride length, but they are best suited for highly conditioned athletes—not beginners. Using proper form is essential when performing explosive drills. Because of their high impact, landing improperly can lead to a greater incidence of injury. If you are not familiar with plyometrics, you may want to work with a certified personal trainer for a few sessions until you have mastered the techniques.

Walking
Many runners are surprised to hear that walking is actually a great cross-training activity. Unlike running, it's low-impact, but it targets many of the same muscles and connective tissues. And because walking can be done almost anywhere at any time, doing a vigorous walk the day after an intense run is a great way to recover. If you choose to use walking as a cross-training activity on your non-running days, walk at a brisk enough pace to get the cardio-respiratory benefits. Remember to use good form and pump your arms to burn more calories and pick up the pace.

Cross-training Activities that Enhance Running
These activities are those that utilize the muscles, connective tissues and joints in a similar manner used in running but with lower impact on the joints. Many runners will use these workouts when recovering from an injury or when going through rehab, but you can try these workout ideas as preventive measures even when you're not suffering from an injury.

Deep Water Running
Deep water running, also known as pool running, is exactly as the name implies: running in deep water. This is achieved by slipping on a flotation device, such as an AquaJogger, so that your legs are suspended off the bottom of the pool. This activity most mimics running on land without the impact on the joints. It makes a great cross-training activity for injured runners, but many healthy runners may find it quite boring. One of the disadvantages to pool running is the need to have access to an indoor pool during the colder months and/or a pool deep enough to perform this workout.
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About The Author

Nancy Howard Nancy Howard
Nancy is an avid runner and health enthusiast. A retired pediatric nurse, she received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University and is also a certified running coach and ACE-certified personal trainer.

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